Russell Mulcahy - What Went Wrong?

It's fair to say that one often expects sequels to be poorer than their predecessors but no one was quite prepared for the awfulness of "Highlander II: The Quickening". With director Russell Mulcahy having steered the original film to European box office success, hopes were high that he could repeat the magic.

Priot to "Highlander", Mulcahy enjoyed a successful career as a director of music videos which included all the early Duran Duran efforts. One of the most impressive of these was "Arena", which featured Milo O'Shea from "Barbarella", the film that inspired the group's name.

Mulcahy delved briefly into film-making in 1980 with "Derek & Clive Get the Horn". He followed this in 1984 with the terrifyingly claustrophobic "Razorback", filmed in his native Australia. The story is quite ridiculous with a mutant freak boar-like creature terrorising the Outback. But the bleak and savage tension of the piece is very effective.

Then came the witty and exciting "Highlander". Mired in fantasy, the thin plotline was enhanced greatly by Mulcahy's highly visceral style that he'd honed on music videos. Unfortunately the dismal 1991 sequel left Mulcahy inserting flashy gimmicks to compensate for the soggy plot.

Things got worse with the schizophrenic elephant that was "Blue Ice" with Michael Caine in 1992 and the boring "The Real McCoy" (1993) starring Kim Basinger.

He did at least bring some quality to "The Shadow" (1994) but unfortunately couldn't handle the scenes of dialogue which were just plain embarrassing to watch.

Following 1996's "Silent Trigger" with Dolph Lundgren he has concentrated on TV, with his futuristic "On the Beach" (2000) having received some good press. This was not the case for his "Tale of the Mummy" (1998) which went straight to video in America and the UK and was cynically released at around the same time as Stephen Sommers' "The Mummy" was smashing the box office in the summer of 1999.

It's certainly fair to say that Mulcahy can bring shades of class to otherwise awful films. But unless he can better handle the moments in between, his career will continue on a downward slope, which is a pity.